Building on tradition

The Mafisa cattle lending programme is built on the traditional practice of lending female cattle to farmers who want to build their herds – called mafisa in the local Silozi language. Traditionally, the borrower keeps the animals for several years, and keeps some of the offspring when the animals are returned to the owner. 

Because the programme is built on long-standing tradition, Mafisa is readily understood and trusted by farmers. 

Our activities

Mafisa does five things to achieve our mission


Mafisa provides low-cost animal health services including dipping and vaccination. Mafisa also provides advice and support on preventive health and reproduction management. Services are accompanied by frequent training, both formal and informal.

Farmers are trained in how to spot the signs of trouble, and on how to respond to sickness and emergencies. Mafisa centres have critical care supplies ready to deal with the most common problems.

Cattle loans

Mafisa cattle lending replicates the traditional mafisa system, which is a form of agricultural finance based on contracting out the management of animals. 

Mafisa allocates cattle to group members through a management contract. During the period of the contract, farmers look after the animals and keep the milk, while Mafisa provides free and compulsory health services. As long as they bring the animals for health services and ensure good management, farmers will keep the animals for four to five years and receive some of the offspring.

Farmer organisation

Mafisa organises farmers into groups, which are the focus for local management, provision of equipment and infrastructure, and training. Mafisa stipulates criteria for group membership, ensuring participation of women, youth and the poorest.

Regenerative grazing

Africa’s traditional pastoral communities live in the continent’s most fragile, climate-impacted environments, which offer few alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities. Although poor grazing practices also threaten environmental degradation, climate-smart regenerative grazing can drive the restoration of rangelands and improvement of animal health, and avert the risk of desertification. Mafisa works with communities to promote the adoption of improved rangeland management.


Farmers in remote areas are often unable to access fair market prices, with middlemen dominating the value chain. Mafisa has partnered with Zambeef PLC, the largest player in the Zambian beef market, to ensure that remote farmers sell their animals directly for a fair market price.